Gynaecological teaching associates are not the answer
- By: Syed M A Sohaib
The standardised patient—you might have tested their cranial nerves in an objective structured clinical exam or consoled them in an emotionally charged communication skills session. Now the United Kingdom is welcoming a new generation of standardised patients known as gynaecology teaching associates (GTAs). These are women who have been trained to teach medical students how to do vaginal examinations, and then let their tutees practise on them. The GTAs give students immediate feedback. Sessions with GTAs are designed to help students overcome psychological barriers to carrying out these intimate examinations, and to ensure they do them competently before seeing patients in clinic.
It all sounds well meaning, but the process makes me and others cringe. I cannot exactly figure out why it should be any more uncomfortable than doing such procedures in clinic, but I have two theories. My first surrounds the lack of necessity for these examinations. In clinic